Rick Scott lobbies Twitter, Facebook CEOs to ‘protect children’, back social media study
Rick Scott. Image via AP.

Rick Scott
Will the CEOs back Scott's legislation?

A U.S. Senator from Florida who has often struck an adversarial tone with social media CEOs is now lobbying them to support his legislation scrutinizing their companies.

Sen. Rick Scott wrote the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook, Snap, and Alphabet, reminding the quartet of his “growing concern” that their platforms are corrupting youth.

“In recent years, we’ve seen this dependence on social media platforms grow. While social media has offered a way for families forced to stay apart during the COVID-19 pandemic the ability to interact in new ways, I remain concerned about the massively increased usage of social media, especially by our younger generation. Reports show that children are particularly vulnerable to feelings of loneliness, depression and other mental health issues, and it is our responsibility to protect their wellbeing,” Scott wrote.

The Senator went on to reiterate concern over Facebook’s development of a youth-targeted version of Instagram.

Scott’s “Safe Social Media Act” would task the Federal Trade Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study social media’s effect on minors, including “the long-term health and mental health impacts of prolonged social media usage.” A report to Congress would follow, memorializing findings.

The letter follows up on previous correspondence on this subject, in which the Senator brought up concerns about youth suicide.

“Coinciding with this rise in social media usage, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted that the suicide rate among U.S. teenagers is significantly and tragically rising. While correlation does not always indicate causation, I do believe this alarming statistic must be urgently investigated,” Scott wrote in March.

When Scott was Governor of Florida, social media wasn’t a primary focus. But the run-up to the 2020 election saw conservatives, including Scott, pressure social media companies for perceived bias against Donald Trump.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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